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Friday, 11 July 2014

More kids' books taken off shelves

Junior reader: A child browsing the bookshelves at the Sengkang Public Library in Singapore. - The Straits Times/ Asia News Network

Junior reader: A child browsing the bookshelves at the Sengkang Public Library in Singapore. - The Straits Times/ Asia News Network

THE three books that were pulled by the National Library Board (NLB) from its shelves for not being “pro-family” were not the only ones that were removed.

At least three more children’s books were also recently banned. Written by American author Robie H. Harris, they have to do with sex education and are meant for children aged four and above.

A source said the books were removed in April following e-mail complaints from the public.

It was reported earlier that the board had yanked three children’s titles, which featured same-sex couples, from its collection after complaints from some members of the public that they were not “pro-family”.

At least two online petitions have since been started, calling for the books to be reinstated.

Student Lim Jialiang, 23, started one with local writer Ng Yi-Sheng, 33, and Liyan Chen, 31, a PhD student from the National University of Singapore. In their petition, the trio said: “The books above help to broach a highly sensitive subject to children, allowing them to understand that there are different versions of what it means to be a ‘family’.”

Lim said yesterday he felt that NLB was taking “many steps backwards” when it removed the books.

“I understand that the books are offensive to some, but offence is never good grounds for censorship. One can simply choose ... not to borrow the books,” he said.

The petition had garnered 3,100 signatures as of 11pm Wednesday.

A separate online petition on petition platform Change.org also called on NLB to reinstate the removed titles. It had 1,158 supporters as of 11pm Wednesday.

But members of the open Facebook group “We are against Pinkdot in Singapore” cheered the move and called on fellow group members to write to NLB to commend its pro-family position.

Facebook user Carrie Yu, who wrote in the group to support NLB’s decision, said: “As responsible adults, we owe it to children to teach them the value of family and how every child needs a father and a mother.

“To safeguard the moral values of the future generation of our nation, we should protect children from unwholesome influences.”

Dr Khoo Kim Choo, who has 30 years of experience in the early childhood field, said it is important to teach pre-schoolers about sex and their body.

“Sex is a natural process and shouldn’t be seen as dirty or bad,” she said, adding that children that age often question where they came from.

“But children should read such sex education books with their parents or teachers,” she said. — The Straits Times/ Asia News Network

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